Riddle of a dead goose, a dog and an MP

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The Independent Online

Labour's former deputy leader, Roy Hattersley, is well used to the dog- eat-dog world of politics. But life can be much more troublesome, he has discovered, if your dog chooses to eat something else.

Mr Hattersley, a well-documented lover of animals, has been questioned by police over an allegation that his dog killed a goose in a royal park on Easter Monday.

According to police, the 63-year-old MP was walking the suspect, said to look like a Staffordshire bull terrier, in St James's Park, central London, when the goose was attacked and shaken violently by a dog of the same description.

A witness fetched an official in the park, between Westminster and Buckingham Palace, but when they returned the victim was dead.

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said: "Metropolitan police officers came across a grey lag goose lying on the South Lakeside Pathway in St James's Park at 8.15 on Monday morning.

"A park employee approached the officers and told them he had seen a Staffordshire bull terrier-type dog attack the bird.

"The witness gave a description of the dog and owner and the police spoke to a man soon afterwards at the junction of Buckingham Gate and Wilfred Street.

"Following further inquiries the officers made a report to the Royal Parks police for their consideration on whether to take further action," she added.

A Royal Parks police spokesman said it was "pursuing inquiries to decide whether a prosecution will follow in due course".

Staff at St James's Park said yesterday that had been instructed not to talk about the case because of the high-profile of the suspect's owner.

Royal parks regulations made it an offence to cause or permit any animal of which someone is in charge to chase, worry or injure any other animal or bird.

Dogs are allowed to be off leads in "certain areas" of the royal parks.

The MP for Birmingham Sparkbrook, who once spoke up in Parliament about "encouraging responsible dog ownership", could face a fine of up to pounds 200 for breaking park regulations.

He was not available for comment yesterday.